Posts Tagged ‘soccer’

Looking for friends…Where are the Krims?


Now began the search for our dear friends, the Krims.

Krim Family

Where are the Krims?

We walked up and down streets looking for the Krim’s house with no luck.  We were great friends with Mohammed Krim, his sisters Safia and Zahor, and his parents.  Oh, we had some delicious meals at their house, me eating with the men since I was a foreigner, Jennifer running back and forth between the dining room and the kitchen.

Jennifer spent more time with them than we did – they adored her and she was an independent sort.  She’d spend the night at the Krim’s, Mark or I would walk over to get her, and she’d usually ask to spend the night again!  She’d often stay several nights in a row.  They would have her carry the bread to the communal oven and go to the store to get the milk pail filled.  Remember, she’s only three years old.  Once, right before Aid El Kbir (the biggest feast of the year that concludes Ramadan), she was there when they slaughtered a lamb in the backyard.  I was horrified – oh, poor Jennifer, having to see that, etc. etc.  It didn’t faze her a bit.  (I just this minute looked online to make sure I spelled Aid El Kbir correctly (I did) and found out the holiday has a Facebook page.)

The day we left Oujda, Mark went into the Royal Air Maroc office because Krim used to work there.  I thought he’d transferred to Casablanca.  We found out he’s in Agadir, retired from Royal Air Maroc and has something to do with a travel agency so we think we can locate him now.  But according to the folks in the airline office, the family home had been torn down – no wonder we couldn’t find it.  No public oven, everything changed.   When our Peace Corps service was finished in 1973, we bought our tickets from Krim, who was an agent for Royal Air Maroc, for the return flight to the United States.  We were to land in New York but the plane didn’t have enough fuel to circle as long as was necessary, so it was diverted to Washington D.C.  We landed in a terrific thunder storm; the pilot came out of the cockpit and said that had been a close one (just what we wanted to hear, but we were aware of the tough landing). Customs agents were called back to the airport, it took forever (they were home, asleep), and we were beyond tired.  But we were closer to Raleigh than we would have been in New York so we asked if we could change our tickets and fly straight from D.C.  That is when we found out Krim had booked us – sold us a ticket! – on Braniff, an airline that no longer existed!  The airline industry must have suffered a change between the booking of the ticket and the actual flight. Finally, Eastern Airlines (which now no longer exists) said they would honor our tickets and let us fly out from D.C.

Back to the present

Back to Oujda and the present day: We found Mike’s old apartment…(Mike was our fellow volunteer in Oujda.)

Mike's apartment, 1972

Looking up at balcony of Mike's old apartment, 2011

which overlooked Place Mohammed V (I’m calling it Place Mohammed V but I think I’m wrong.  I’ll correct when I find out.).

He lived in the only building with an elevator for which we were so grateful, because he was on the 7th floor and it would have been  hard to walk up that many steps with a baby buggy – or to leave the buggy at the bottom trusting it would remain there!  We did feel relieved when the creaky old elevator made it, however.  We never got stuck.  The building looked just the same and the lobby looked just as run down and the elevator door looked just as untrustworthy.

The Souks

We could have entered from the square with the post office and the old Palais de Justice or through the walled medina.  We went by the post office.

Oujda post office, 2011

Here’s the post office in 1973.  When we were about to take the photo, this huge group of kids gathered (they’d been playing on the steps) and arranged themselves for a photo as if they did it everyday.

Oujda post office steps 1973

Time for the souks

Time to tackle the souks.  This is where we had a real difference of opinion.  Mark wanted to head off in one direction but I was sure it was another way.  Positive.  The only thing was, there was a wall around the medina that I did not remember.

Medina wall, Oujda

Medinas usually have walls, but if I had walked into this medina so many times, would I not have remembered a wall?  Was it put up later for appearance sake?  When we went in, we did find more covered areas than had been there before, so perhaps the souk had been “modernized” to give it more livability and a more traditional appearance.  I don’t know, and we didn’t ask anyone.  We went in.  All along we were debating if that was the real medina we used to go to, but then we saw the butcher shops.  Yes, this was it.  I was positive.  The layout of the stalls was a little changed, but they were the same.  No, Mark thought, it wasn’t right.  After we got home and Mark looked at the photos, he agreed that indeed the butcher shops were the same ones.  The lack of refrigeration hadn’t changed.

Medina meat market 1973

Medina butcher 2011

In fact, it makes you wonder if we have over-regulated the heck out of our country.  In Morocco, and many other countries I suspect, meat sits out all day.  People just cook it well-done.  Eggs are not usually refrigerated. In fact, when we lived there, we never refrigerated our eggs, and we had a refrigerator!  For some reason that currently defies logic, we kept them on top of the frig. The egg man would ring the doorbell each week, Jennifer would greet him and speak to him in Arabic; we’d bring a bowl of water to the door and put the eggs in one by one.  If they floated, they were no good and we didn’t buy them; otherwise, they were fine.  To this day I float the eggs if I’m not sure if they are still OK.  We didn’t refrigerate yogurt and neither do the French people (The French owner of Maison Do made her own yogurt and didn’t refrigerate it.).  We bought yogurt drinks all over Morocco from refrigerator cases – but if there was any operant cooling, it wasn’t detectable.  We survived.

Back to the medina.  There were the usual cases of cookies and cakes oversaturated with honey and overrun with bees.

Pastry case with bees inside

There were vegetables, fruits, dates and olives everywhere.

Oranges, Oujda medina

Olives, Oujda medina

I would guess that Moroccans consume as many fruits and vegetables per day as Americans do in a week.  It’s funny how that works – we found this to be true 40 years ago in Morocco, and we’ve found it the last 2 ½ years here since we’ve been getting local, organic fruits and vegetables from Abundant Harvest:  when produce tastes better, one eats more.  It’s really quite simple.  In America in the name of efficiency, crop yield and progress, we’ve bred the taste right out of our produce.  Little by little I think we’re understanding that and starting to buy local and organic.  In fact, if we were to put tasty produce in school lunches, it just might be consumed.

We had a great time wandering through the medina and of course showing our photos everywhere we stopped, even if it was just to ask permission to take a photo.  We went in one area where some kids were playing soccer – their goals were marked by egg cartons with rocks on top – but someone sort of official looking guy came to chase us out, telling the area was forbidden.  I think restoration was going on at a local building, maybe a medersa, and they didn’t want folks around.  It just seemed better not to inquire.

Soccer in the medina

Sunday afternoon was market/socialization day and the streets were packed with food and people.  There were vendors of everything from what you’d expect to the old “junk souks” we remember.  Want to buy a door that had been used possibly beyond the use of the wood itself?  Available.  Want a cell phone that couldn’t possibly work, but then used parts are there also?  Available.

Cell phones in the souk

How about a broken toilet seat?  Why not? Snails?

Snails in the souk

Sardines? Pottery? Baskets? Jewelry? Plastic? White ceramic dishes?

Anything? All there in abundance.

God I love souks.  Outside the walls, people were squashed together, laughing and socializing.  We were zonked and went to the hotel, which was right across the street from the medina entrance.

About our dinners – not much to say.  Unremarkable. We realized we’d had so much home cooking when we lived there that we were spoiled.

One other Oujda note: We visited Sidi Yahia Oasis when we lived there and it was so exotic!

Sidi Yahia, 1972

It was a holy pool of sorts, a natural spring thought to have fertility properties if I remember correctly.  Supplicants tied banners to trees for good blessings, and there was a big festival once a year during which there was a fantasia. (A fantasia is an event where horsemen charge as fast as possible and discharge fire-belching guns into the air when they meet.)

Fantasia 1972


John the Baptist was buried at Sidi Yahia – but then, if he was actually buried all the places he’s claimed to have been buried, he must have been chopped into little pieces.

We wanted to see the Oasis again so we just drove in the right direction trusting we’d find a sign, which we did.  We also found a demonstration and wished we could have understood what the speaker was saying.  Lots of people, no one seeming unduly upset, lots of police.  Anyway, instead of countryside between Oujda and Sidi Yahia, there was…city.  Wow.  And the spring had been turned into a lovely fenced park, which did negate some of the former charm.  Also, a cemetery nearby that I remember primarily for graves that were little more than mounds of dirt, was a full-fledged packed-to-the-gills graveyard.  So the best we could say about that venture was that we found it.

Cemetery in 1972

Cemetery, 2011

We have to go

Time to leave.  We felt oddly sad and nostalgic, as if we were leaving our home.  Both of us were taken aback at how intense that feeling was.  Yet the day ahead held adventure: we were going to drive through all the little towns that Mark worked on, and we had the original plans he did to compare to what actually had taken place since.  We would also drive through the Gorges of Zegzel and see if we could find the places where we’d had picnics with the Krims (picnics that involved a butagaz burner because a meal without mint tea at the end just wasn’t a meal, picnic or not).  It was going to be another long day, but there were no mountain ranges to drive through (the Beni Snassens, where Gorges of Zegzel are, didn’t really count as a mountain range), and it was going to be one of the most important days of the trip.


Day Three in Florida: I See a Soccer Game!


Day three, Thursday, the real tournament play began.  After arriving Monday, registration on Tuesday, Soccer Fest on Wednesday, competition began.  Again, I opted out – of the morning game.  I just couldn’t be in the lobby at 6:30!  So Sophie, Joe, Dax and I slept in and then went to Joe’s favorite place.  Only fair, since we went to Target – Sophie’s favorite place – yesterday.

Yep, it is IHOP!  We had a good breakfast, did the 30-minute drive to the Polo Grounds, and the almost an hour trek to the field after parking, walking to the shuttle, waiting for the shuttle, riding the shuttle, and walking to the field.  Phew.

The parents were huddled under umbrellas.

The kids, with Matt and Tabitha as coaches, were ready to go.

I was taking pictures, but due to the heat and humidity, I took them all from my chair.  The lazy way.  Jennifer said to me, “Mom, I’m glad you’re taking pictures of the team.”  Well, actually, I was taking pictures of Sarah!  Oops.

Sarah’s the one with the flying pony tail.  She played well, but the team lost.  They had already lost that morning, but they lost by less the second game.  Most of the teams have been playing together a long time, but our girls have only been together a few months.  Plus, the heat and humidity were new.  We’ll none of us ever complain about Bakersfield heat again.

Sarah had to use her inhaler once, and one girl got heat exhaustion, but they gave it their all.  Really.

As soon as the game was done, we all headed for the beach.  I was way too exhausted and realized I wouldn’t be going to anymore games.  Just cannot deal with the weather physically.  At least I made it to one.

We went to Ocean Reef Beach.  I’d already been there the day before, but today I found out where it got its name.

The girls and Matt headed out right away – that 82 degree water is pretty darn easy compared to our cold Pacific.  As they got farther out, swimming for a while where they couldn’t touch, they found they were standing on a reef or sandbar.

One of the dads is a diver and he had his mask with him.  They all took turns putting it on and looking under the water where they saw a plethora of beautiful fish.  For the kids it was exciting; for Matt, it was heaven.  What a serendipitous discovery.

The ocean also gave me the gorgeous colors of the day before, though not as pronounced.  Remember these pictures, however, to contrast with what I’ll show you tomorrow.

I took a walk with my shadow, not being interested in seeing fish.  I actually have a fish phobia and I only like to look at them behind glass, and sometimes not even then.  I liked my shadow, though, and I’m going to keep it around.  Long and lean.

I was done in and left before the others.  Again, can only take so much heat.  But as I drove away, I was rewarded with birds.

Back at the hotel, out of the very small, barely equipped kitchens, the moms and some dads produced a fantastic dinner.  I don’t know how they did it!  But all the parents and kids are wonderful, helpful, positive, and just easy to be around.

Ready to face Day Four – and for the first game, the kids had a bye – big relief and sleeping in.  I am such a fan of sleeping in.

End of day three.

Summertime, and the blogging gets slower


Creative Every Day’s theme for July is Life.  That means everything, right?  So no matter what I write about, it meets the theme.  Leah suggested we could write autobiographical bits, and I’ve been meaning to write about summer heat, so I’ll tell a story.

I haven’t felt like blogging lately.  Couldn’t tell you why, specifically.  Perhaps I have nothing to say.  Most people who know me would say that’s impossible – I always have something to say.  Not so.  Maybe I’m in another fit of wondering why I should be blogging.  But you know what?  I told myself I’d finish out the year and I will.  Then, I’ll evaluate.

So it’s summer.  That could have something to do with it. We had a few very hot days, but mostly, our Bakersfield weather is atypically cool.  (The low 90s is cool for us in summer.)  But on those 100+ days, the heat zaps the life out of you.  Even in an air conditioned house, somehow you know how hot it is.

Here comes the sun

This isn’t actually the sun, nor even representative of one except that it’s round.  It’s a photograph I took of the London Eye with the individual compartments replaced by daisies, and that big daisy in the center.  Anything round in the sky makes me think of sun.  You can see more art here – and photos here.  The point is, all the photos with the sun are sunsets.  I don’t think we ever go out in the heat of the day to take pictures of the blazing sun.  Do we?  As photographers, we know to stay out of the harsh midday light.  Blazing, harsh – not words to entice you outside.

This is what it really feels like.

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy – or not

I understand that lyric because I lived in North Carolina for three years with three small children – and without air conditioning.  There is no way to do anything fast.  Sometimes, moving at all is hard.  I’d lie in bed at night and try to work out systems for suspending myself from the ceiling so no part of my body would even touch the sheets.

Yet it didn’t seem to bother the kids.  For us adults, though, the livin’ was not very easy.  We had a very small house (it may not have even been 1,000 sq. ft.), five jobs between the two of us, and three kids under six.  Oh, and my husband was a graduate student at UNC Chapel Hill.  Yep, our livin’ was not very easy.  Even with the five jobs, we had no money.

But what can you do?  You do what you have to – take care of the kids, plan activities, etc.  You would run in the sprinklers if you were in California, but in North Carolina no one has sprinklers.  Don’t need ’em.  It rains.  Nearly every day in the summer.  In the afternoon the sky would darken, the wind would come up, I’d gather the kids and anything that might be outside – not only so it wouldn’t get wet but so it wouldn’t blow away.  And then we’d see the lightning and hear the thunder.  It wouldn’t rain for very long usually- just long enough to leave us with steaming, saturated air one could barely breathe in.  Oh my, that humidity.

There was a foul odor in our bedroom.  We could not identify it.  We looked, searched, nothing.  After a two or three weeks it went away.  And two years later, when we moved out of that house, we rolled up the straw mat on the floor and, entwined in the straw weaving on the bottom, was a little mouse skeleton.  Unbelievable.  Gross.  We’d been smelling decomposing mouse.

I remember when the air conditioning in the car broke, and that was our only refuge.  We were so broke ourselves that I didn’t take the car in.  Finally, by September, I couldn’t take it anymore and in I went to the garage.  It was a $5 part.  For $5 I could have been driving cool.

That’s life

Not long ago, I said my life is a song.  I can’t get away from lyrics, as you can tell from the mini-headlines.  But that’s life; we did what we had to do.  Now, as an adult – an older adult – I don’t have to take care of little ones, and Bakersfield is not as humid as the south, but it’s harder every year to deal with the heat.  I don’t do dark well, but I have to keep my bedroom dark in the mornings to keep the heat out.  Have to open and shut blinds.  By late August, I am crabby but know the heat will continue through October.  Once in a while, there is a whiff of fall, everything relaxes, and then it’s hot again.

It feels like this:

Hot, electric, infra-red.  Thirsty.

Would you rather be hot or cold?

We humans are funny.  We’re always asking questions like,”Would you rather live at the beach or in the mountains?”  “Do you like summer or winter better?”  It’s as if we must pin ourselves down and choose instead of enjoying the merits of both.  After all this griping, I can say I’d rather be hot than cold, however.  We were in the Peace Corps in Morocco from 1971 to 1973.  Our first year, we had no heat in the winter.  Our house was new – a cement structure still holding lots of moisture, and we could see our breath inside. It was very cold.

We moved the stove into our bedroom so we could keep the oven on all day for warmth.  We cooked in the bedroom, which mostly worked out except for the time I spilled the pot of soup all over our bed.  We put our dining room table in the bedroom, which consisted of a plank of wood  supported by bricks.  It was low – we sat on the floor. The cold cement floor. Maybe we had cushions; I don’t remember. We bundled up like Eskimos but there is a point where one more sweater, one more blanket, won’t do it.  It’s as if you’ve reached maximun warmth and nothing else will help.

Jenny, who was two, would run around barefoot and it didn’t bother her a bit. I was always trying to get her to put shoes on, or a sweater.   Somehow we managed a trip to Malaga in Spain for a long weekend (it was very close to Oujda, where we were.  There is even a Spanish town, Melilla, in Morocco.) We took the cheapest boat to cross the Mediterranean in the cheapest staterooms.  I spent the entire night throwing up – I was pregnant.  But in Malaga it was warmer.  I knew what I had to do.  I took Jenny and went on home leave for at least four weeks, returning to stay with my parents in North Carolina.  I know from that experience that being cold is impossible.  More impossible than being hot.

I tried to find some photos to scan for this post, but it appears I didn’t take any photos in summer in North Carolina.  I guess it was too hot!

Heat is always on my mind

I am about to go to Florida – West Palm Beach – for a soccer tournament.  One of my granddaughters is playing on the AYSO team from our region.  I think I’ve had heat on my mind because I am a bit apprehensive.  Last summer we went to Disneyland on what turned out to be a very hot and humid day, and I didn’t do well.  But I want to have the experience of the soccer tournament, and then going to Orlando after it’s over to visit Harry Potter World.  So somehow I’ll deal.  And I’ll see a new place and the kids will no doubt find playing soccer with temps in the 90s and real feel in the 100s and humidity not nearly as hard as I will find just sitting in it.  I will take pictures, however.  And it’ll be so much cooler to relive it through photos.

So there’s my little slice of life, my autobiographical bit for Creative Every Day.  Life.  We have a motto here in Bakersfield – Life as it should be.  (Or sometimes not.)

World Cup as Art


Waaayyyy too early (My granddaughter puts lots of extra letters in words these days. It’s the style.)

My first World Cup adventure was going down to Sandrini’s Bar at 7:00 AM to watch the opening game.  I admit, it was lots of fun, but it was waaayyyyy too early for me.  I’m usually lucky to be ready to leave the house by 10!  But I wanted the experience, and I wanted to watch South Africa play on their own turf.

United States and England

However, we turned on the United States/England match at a more civilized hour, and the first thing I noticed were patterns.  It was amazing.

I guess the lighting was just right to cast those shadows.  I could barely watch the game, I was so intrigued with this.  The players look like they are on skis.  Crossed skis going up and down the field.

I knew the shadows had to stick with the players, yet I still expected them to stay behind when someone moved.  I’d never quite noticed what a unit a person and his shadow is.

You see why I have the photos. I bolted for my camera and tripod because I didn’t want to miss anything, and once I started – well – I could have shot the entire game on the television.  Even the poor resolution was interesting – because the players look like they are outlined – an effect I think they offer on photoshop.

The most amazing things happen by accident.  The players are almost in a semi-circle in front of the semi-circle. Don’t you just love this? I haven’t seen shadows like this on any of the games since.

These were great – with two players so close, their shadow skis criss-cross.  I was still waiting for someone to walk out of his shadow – my mind still wanted it to happen while knowing that was ridiculous.

Reminds me of a photo I had fun with of my granddaughter and grandson looking at the Kern River, which I called Shadow Skiing.  I loved their shadows.  I think it’s in my art gallery.  I have to say, I am not a photo shopper.  I’m quite sure I could not recreate this.

I think I captured one of the big moments in the game by accident…

…judging by the look on this spectator’s face.

I put the camera on black and white to check that out.

It almost looks like a moving tick-tack-toe game.

Another double cross, and the guy on the left standing on the circle has one of his shadows obscured.  Well, I could go on ad nauseum, like I do with the clouds, pointing out how each shadow is different from another – but I won’t.


The English commentators are so interesting.  I don’t watch soccer on television (I’ve watched plenty of soccer on the AYSO fields) so I don’t know what commentators usually sound like. I’m used to them practically screaming commentary in great excitement, like in Olympic skiing.  But these guys are more measured.  And they have a better vocabulary.

In saying something about the Paraguayans, the commentator called them “obdurate Paraguayans.”  Have you ever heard a sport’s commentator say the word obdurate?

They described the play of the Italians in the European cup: “They looked like dinosaurs.”

After Paraguay got the first goal today, all the players were jumping up and down, and the commentator said, “the Paraguayans are absolutely frothy.”

One more – the television focused on a fan in the stands in some sort of outfit – a mascot maybe.  The commentator said, “It’s not mandatory to come to World Cup matches in disguise.”  It’s worth watching the matches for the commentary, even if you don’t like soccer.

Leaving you with shadows

End of post.  Shadows and patterns.  Can’t wait for Portugal and Ivory Coast tomorrow – with Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best in the world playing for Portugal, and Didier Drogba, an amazing player and humanitarian playing for Cote D’Ivoire.  At least I hope he plays – he has a broken arm.

I’ve posted these shadows before, but apropos of nothing, here’s a little Robert Louis Stevenson poem along with grandchildren and their shadows.  But you’ll notice that they are about to leave their shadows behind.  Stepping our from behind their shadows.

Bend it Like Sarah: Soccer in the Desert


We were in Mesquite, Nevada, right outside of Vegas, for my granddaughter’s soccer tournament.  She was playing with the Bombers for the first time, and when the subject came up long ago, I said, “I’ll go!”  Of course, this was before we bought a new house on impulse, have a move scheduled for this coming Saturday, and all that.  So as I wrote about a couple of days ago (Waking up in Vegas), we (my daughter, granddaughter, and two other granddaughters we brought along for the ride) headed out to Vegas.

On the way to the soccer fields, we passed Joe’s Crab Shack.  Having a grandson named Joe who recently joined Facebook, I snapped the photo so I could post it, tagged with Joe’s name.  I knew he’d enjoy it and he did.  I asked him if he’d been crabby since we left.

It was great to watch Sarah play soccer.

That’s Sarah in the white shirt, #28.

She played a great game.

After the game, this pool was what we had on our minds.  We barely had time to get back, cool off, and make the second game.  But we did it.

This was the life.  It was remarkably cool to sit on a lounge chair in the pool itself.  The grandkids made the most of it.  The pool, oddly enough for being in a desert resort, is barely open.  When we asked why it was open 10 to 5 only, we found out that it’s because in the evening folks are supposed to go in the casino and gamble, not enjoy the pool.

We brought the kids some lunch, they lounged a bit more,

and it was back to the soccer fields, where Sarah made the winning goal of the second game!  Wahoo!  Very fun.

Tomorrow, we make an impulse decision to stay another night, exhaust ourselves walking on the strip, and head for Los Angeles for the Black Eyed Peas concert.

By the way, if you like the desert, I have some terrific photos on my website in the Nature Gallery – photos of Arches National Park in Utah primarily, some of Colorado.